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Life, the universe and grants

The main FE commitments in the minority parties' manifestos

Plaid Cymru

* Continuing education for all, backed by a new integrated system of modular examinations designed to put academic and vocational qualifications under one umbrella.

* Student loan system abolished.

* Discrepancies between grants for further and higher education institutions abolished.

* Support for Welsh academic research.

* Action to reduce use of English examination boards.

UK Independence Party

Concentrates its fire on what it calls the "non-courses" of GNVQ and NVQ. The party promises a "hard look at the value of the new courses with a view to a widespread withdrawal of funding and with the cash thus released it will make sure that proper courses are properly funded." Some colleges, the party argues, have reduced "both entry and exit standards whilst inventing a proliferation of new courses intended to attract students, but whose academic value must be subject to grave doubt."

Liberal Party

* Credit accumulation scheme.

* More access courses.

* Incentives for business to second experienced staff to run FE courses.

* Closer relationships between higher and further education, with a new Higher Education Council to co-ordinate the two sectors.

Natural Law Party * Transcendental meditation forms the core of policy for further education and training, as well as schools. All teaching staff and students would be required to learn TM to help them "fulfil all aspirations in a natural, effortless and blissful way."

* More time for on-the-job training - with consciousness-based programmes - and a national apprenticeship programme.

* Training schemes would include study of the constitution of the Universe, and there would be comprehensive adult education courses "for fulfilment in life."

Socialist Party

(formerly Militant).

* Removal of limit on hours claimants can study without losing benefit.

* Student loans system abolished.

* Student grants restored to 1979 levels in real terms.

* Allowances for 16 and 17-year-olds to enable them to stay on at school or go into training.

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